Life update ➜ I’m a nurse and live in the mountains now!!
This blog has changed so much since the days of yore when Marissa started this website for me, insisting I capture my travels on something more official than a mass email to everyone on my contact list. I heeded her word and my blog became a success…to my inner circle. Which is all I want. Writing has been my catharsis since I was a child. My truest form of expression. It’s a place where I can lay down my barriers, expose my vulnerabilities, and let the process wash over me, rinsing away all the spots where I feel tight. I think it’s a necessary cleansing for my soul to do this, but at the same time, I resist it. Hence the 4 year silence. I’m still trying to figure out why I do this.
When I decided to go to nursing school, tackling that plus a job and a chronic illness took every last spoon, and I had nothing left to give. I didn’t even dance. I felt starved for connection to myself, and had a gnawing sense of needing to nurture the artist within, but unsure as to how. As I’m writing these words now I feel the flow coming back to me. Energy is coursing through my fingertips as they remember how this is done and stumble their way across the keyboard. I feel settled. Writing is easy, but it is also hard. Perhaps because of what it demands. It takes everything out of me. And when it’s over I’m left exhausted – empty from pouring everything out, anxious about the reaction, annoyed that I care, and ultimately warmed by the feedback.
So, what is this page now? First it was a travel blog and super fun. Then I got sick and it chronicled everything I was going through with endometriosis and life was quite terrible. Now things feel fresh and different. Perhaps I’m trying to make this blog fit into a box it has outgrown. Maybe it doesn’t need a box at all, but just to be a space where I can come and unpack all that is weighing on me. I definitely need to rewrite the “About Me” section, and probably make it a bit more generic so that I don’t have to change it with every season of my life 🙂
Endo doesn’t rule my life anymore like it did in my 30’s. It was a cruel dictator for so long that sometimes I forget I am now (mostly) free. And quite frankly, I’m sick of talking about it. Is that awful to say? I know that wasn’t the case for a long time. But I do consider myself healthy now, thanks to Katie at www.healendo.com. I have waxed poetic to those in my life about how she singlehandedly gave my life back to me. Katie and I started working together in March of 2018. By the time September rolled around I felt strong and healthy enough for my trip to the Middle East. I had reconciled myself to only participating in 1/3 of what was planned to help avoid disappointment in myself. Imagine my surprise when I participated in everything! I remember being most worried about Petra. I knew it was going to be hot and it was going to be hard. We also did the candlelight tour the night before our day tour and I was worried I had signed up for too much. The candlelight tour……<insert jaw drop>. You guys. Thousands of flickering candles lighting the path as we snake our way through the ancient gorge (the Siq), on roads the Nabataeans built in 150BC. The cavern walls towered above us, oppressive and black against the night as we squeezed through the narrow openings. We spilled out in front of the treasury and were guided to sit down. It smelled like manure and Texas farms and then the Bedouins start singing and playing the rababa, their traditional stringed instrument. During music breaks we listened to stories about the majesty that was Petra in her glory days. It was such a surreal moment for this little history nerd and I couldn’t have conjured a more magical evening with all my fantasies combined.
The next day, we completed our tour with the guide and he dropped us off at the base of the monastery. We could climb the 850 steps for the view, or turn back. Duh, we climbed. I was slow. I stopped a lot. Cheyne and Yossi stopped with me, and made me laugh through my frustrations of holding them back. I literally staggered to the top and collapsed. I looked back and forth between the monastery and the people bounding up behind me. Tears were pooling in my eyes because I couldn’t believe what my body had just accomplished, and at the same time I was angry that it couldn’t do all the things I asked of it. Cheyne came and sat down next to me and saw my sadness. “I just don’t understand why I can’t be like them,” I said. “Honey, they don’t have a chronic disease.” And that simple response carried so much compassion and gentleness that it allowed me to give myself a break. I’ll never forget how sweet that moment was with him.
So we all know now that despite everything, I’m still alive. Thanks to science. After Israel and Jordan, I came back home and started nursing school. Smash cut to: drama, tears, frustration, questioning every life choice…..I am now a nurse. Hooray. I guess.
And I live in Asheville! I wish I could say I concocted some grand scheme to get here, but the reality is much less dramatic. A friend was applying to hospitals out of state and when she told me she applied to Asheville, I thought “That sounds cool. I’ll apply too.” So I did, accepted the job, and moved. And actually that is probably the most Erin thing I could have done to get here.
I never imagined my life would unfold in this way. I feel happiness and contentment on levels so deep I didn’t know these wells ran beneath the surface. These mountains and these waterfalls have soothed my soul in ways I didn’t know I needed or wanted. I’m absorbing everything in this new space. My anxiety has decreased, and subsequently so has my pharmaceutical intake. My days off entail discovering a waterfall, hiking, watching the sun set over the mountains, exploring wineries, or just being outside in a general way and not wanting to kill myself because the sun is friendly here. I’m going white water rafting on class IV rapids this week. I fucking LOVE this.
However! It’s not all puppies and rainbows, guys. Don’t worry. I could never upset the balance of the universe. I hate being a nurse. Yeah, I said it. My hospital sucks. We are chronically understaffed, underpaid, and overworked. It’s not at all the fantasy they paint for you in school. But I’m not alone, and that solidarity binds me with my colleagues. The people on my floor are some of the smartest, kindest, supportive, open-minded people a girl can know, with the darkest senses of humor. My tribe. How did I get this lucky? Work simultaneously feels like a party and like walking the death march. I’m okay with it, because Asheville was never going to be long term. It was always a stepping stone to traveling. But now that I’m here, I’m not sure when I’ll be done with this place. I won’t be ready to leave until I’ve squeezed everything out of her. This may take a while. In the meantime, I’ll keep adventuring with my new adventurous friends. Plus I just recently discovered an authentic taqueria where I can fill up on real Mexican tacos to my heart’s content. I’ll be good for a while because honestly that was the only thing missing.
One thing I’ve noticed – I’ve stopped worrying about the future. I’m not sure when that happened, but I do know when I recognized it. I took myself to Mexico in January as a graduation present to myself. 3 weeks in one of my favorite countries – I was blissed out. I remember standing on my balcony in Puerto Vallarta, watching the waves roll in, the sun start to set, and a smattering of sailboats dotting the horizon and becoming silhouettes against the fading light. What a perfect time to feel gratitude and appreciation for my life. Conversely, what a perfect time for anxiety to rise into my throat. My heart rate increased as thought about not passing my NCLEX, and how all my plans would have to be put on hold. Or worse, I would pass, and I would move to Asheville and not make any friends and spend all my days in the dark and lonely and sad. I felt this panic climbing up from my bowels, clawing it’s way into my mind and trying to take root and I STOPPED IT. I’ve never done that before. But I literally spoke to it and said “No, no. Not now. Now is for Mexico.” AND IT WENT AWAY. And, spoiler alert: everything worked out better than I imagined.
This post is all over the place. I guess that’s what happens when you haven’t posted in (gulp) years. But I’m still paying for this domain so let’s do this. Here are the bullet points:
- I live in the mountains (How do I ever get used to this?? It’s extraordinary)
- I’m a nurse on a Trauma Care floor
- I turned 40 last month and went to Charleston to celebrate with people I love
- I upgraded from a manual stick shift to an automatic
- I’m still teaching myself how to play the guitar
- I have lots of new friends
- I’m really happy 🙂
- I own hiking boots and Tevas now (new topography = new shoes)
- I travel somewhere new every month
- I get 12 weeks vacation per year (I arrange my schedule to have a week off every month. WHY WOULD I NOT?!)
- My first floor patio is full of furniture and plants and other fun stuff and no one has stolen a thing (still surprised by this)
So, cheers to a new chapter, the magic of the mountains, and the continued efficacy of a good SSRI.